I got some very sad news from Haven yesterday, that Charles and Caroline’s beloved dog Brutus had, after a period of decline, finally crossed Rainbow Bridge.
Brutus is the dog who really converted me to dogs and made me think that one day, in the right place and at the right time, I would want such a personable and loyal companion. He was such a sweet soul and a grumpy old boy. I knew that when I cuddled him for the last time before leaving in April that it would be the last time. I’m glad that we got that final week together. It was so very special to get up in the morning and sit by the fire with him and Charles and have my coffee.
Here is Brutus in August 2014, when he was still in his prime.
Brutus, you were well loved and will be sorely missed. Thank you for making our lives a little brighter.
Charles and Caroline, I’m sending hugs across the vast distance that separates us. Far in body, close in spirit. Love you both.
Google says I did 871KM, but my odometre says 830KM.
Okay, I know I have A LOT to catch up on. What I’ve concluded from the last week is that it is no longer possible for me to be “semi-online.” My 10 months in Europe have made me accustomed to living in the 21st century and I’m lost without access to Siri and the ability to be able to do what needs doing online when I need to do it. It has nothing to do with not being able to unplug, which I absolutely can do, just not in the context of trying to plan an international move! I was so discombobulated and disorganised this past week. 🙁
I am going to try do proper backdated posts about the myriads of things I had to do to prepare to leave this morning, but here’s the short of it:
-I returned to Haven late last Tuesday night, thanks to my neighbours C&C picking me up in Regina;
-I stayed with C&C so that I could more easily pack up (never mind that Haven had no power, water, or Internet). They have tons of room and a similar routine to me so this worked out super well;
-Caroline kept me well fuelled with one delicious meal after another. Here’s the brunch she made for the two of us on Sunday, what she calls an “apple pancake,” but which I find is more like an apple upside down cake even if the apples end up floating to the top:
-I had some work done on Moya to ready her for her final epic voyage. Among the things I tasked my mechanic to resolve is why my overhead light stays on, requiring me to pull the fuse when I park lest I drain the battery. That wound up being harder to diagnose than expected, so he told me to keep pulling the fuse like I’ve been doing and gave me this to make it easier:
car fuse puller
I was suitably amused by his solution, especially since he didn’t charge me for poking around;
-I was able to renew my driver’s license, but it didn’t come before I left so now I have to figure out how to get it to Mexico (my host in Chelem suggested I have it sent to her in Ontario for her bring it down in the fall rather than have it couriered to Mexico);
-I got my property tax assessment and went to town ready to pick a fight because I thought that the amount was a mistake at best or a cash grab at worst. Turned out that the number was real and reflects the current market. So Haven is now valued at 5.35 times what it was valued the last couple of years and I’ve been assured I will only get a token property tax increase. Looks like the expected real estate boom has started!!!
-The traitorous weather was not conducive to packing:
It was freezing in Miranda and I was not able to give her a cleaning before taking off again. By the way, I had some serious mouse damage (my scarf drawer was decimated), so that’s another reason I couldn’t have stayed in Miranda since she needed serious disinfecting.;
-All the Tetris I played as a kid paid off. There isn’t an ounce of space left in the truck:
Here’s how I loaded the cab, filling it with boxes…
And then stuffing soft items into the gaps:
I got about 95% of my most prized possessions into the truck! I’m not that disappointed since I’m headed into a humid climate and so it doesn’t make sense to bring all my journals, photo albums, and the rest of the books into that climate until I fully commit to it. I am going to have to fully unpack when I get to Chelem otherwise I risk packed items moulding over the summer.
So today was departure day. I’d hoped to leave yesterday, but that was a moving target and I was fine with leaving as late as Friday. For one thing, I desperately wanted one day before departure where I could just stop to sit for a moment and think about anything I might have forgotten. I managed to get the afternoon and evening off.
Caroline made her amazing homemade pizza (with homemade venison salami!) for dinner so I could have leftovers for my drive today! After dinner, she and I sat down at her computer so I could show her a few things. She has moved to a Mac and has had basically no learning curve. I’m so proud of her and happy that she now has a computer that works well so we can keep in touch better. It’ll also be so much easier to help her troubleshoot issues, although based on an email she sent me today, I think she’ll be able to handle many of her own issues. We then played cards, visited a bit with my immediate neighbours K&T, and I ended up going to bed way, way, way, way too late, well past midnight.
I wanted to be up at 6:30, but was, of course, awake at 5:00. I got up around 6:15 and was delighted to find Charles up and the coffee already perking. The border didn’t open till 8:00 and I had less than an hour drive there, so I sat for a bit before dressing and putting the last of my bags in the truck, as well as mug of coffee for the road.
Goodbyes are always difficult, but we all three vowed to see one another again in two years in Mexico!!!
Standing by the truck, looking east. Goodbye, Canada, it’s been good knowing you, but I’m heading somewhere new…
I made a pit stop in Coronach and got to the border at 8:30. Based on my experience recently at airports, I made the decision to cross while wearing a wig rather than a headscarf. The atmosphere at the crossing was very different than it was under the Obama years, much more no nonsense than conversational and friendly. For example, I was greeted with “Passport?” rather than, “Hi! How are you today?” I was asked the usual questions about where I was going, where I live, did I have any ATF, etc. All seemed to be going well, but soon as the officer opened the rear of the truck, he asked me to step outside and go into the waiting room. There, he had me fill out a customs form. As I did so, I overheard him say to someone, “This one is going to take a while.”
Well, at least they weren’t making me unpack the truck, but, dang, I’d forgotten my coffee! When the officer came back after just a few minutes to get my declaration, I asked if I could get the coffee and he said, “We’ll be done in a few minutes.”
Sure enough, he had me back in the truck a minute later, at most 12 minutes from the time I’d started the interview! The last thing he said to me was, “You wrote a book?” which tells me that they have Rae as an alias on file for me, that he Googled me, and that whatever he found told him that I likely was not carrying contraband or otherwise a threat (by the way, I had provided him an inventory of what I have in the truck).
One of the questions I was asked was how I plan to support myself in Mexico and he didn’t seem happy with my answer that I was going to work there for myself and that Mexico was satisfied with that. My answer should have been, “That’s what made it possible to get my residency visa.” He also asked me if I’m keeping a Canadian bank account and it was obvious that he liked my answer that I am not cutting ties with Canada at this time.
So it was another absolutely uneventful and easy, it not particularly welcoming, entry into the US. I pointed Moya south, fuelled up in Scobey, then continued south towards Circle, where I made another pit stop, before pulling into a Wendy’s in Miles City at 12:30 to get some lunch (most of the pizza had been breakfast, with a bit left for an afternoon snack!), use their WiFi, and find a room for the night. The greeting there was so friendly and a reminder of why I’ve so enjoyed my travels to the US in the past.
After a bit of research, I decided to push on to Douglas, Wyoming, where I would land around 6:00. That was a much longer day than I wanted to do, but there aren’t a lot of cities in that part of Wyoming so I would either stop too late or too early. I’m staying with one of you lovely readers just south of Denver tomorrow and will have a relatively short (400KM) day from Douglas, so I can get a late start.
I just love this corner of the US, just rolling hills not unlike home. It was a very isolated drive, of course. I stopped in Broadus for fuel and coffee and then drove straight to Douglas, with only one pit stop at a rest area about 45 minutes from my destination. After weeks of GREY, it was amazing to get blue sky the deeper I got into Wyoming. There was a brief thundershower right before Douglas, but it cleared quickly.
The hotel rate I was quoted was 79USD. I asked if they had an “Exhausted Canadian driving to Mexico” rate and… got a 14USD discount. WOW! That covered some takeout and a beer for dinner. The liquor store is right next to the hotel and the lady there was super helpful and friendly in showing me what they had for single beers. Interestingly, I no longer get carded when I buy booze in the US so I must be starting to look my age at last… 🙂
I’m sure there should be more to this already novel-length post, but I’m ready to drop. Hopefully, I’m back to a more regular posting schedule. April really has been sheer madness. But I’m on my way!
I learned about this song just before heading down to Mexico for the first time. It no longer applies to me, but I love the tune. So here’s an earworm for you. 🙂
Last night, Caroline decided to make a special dinner for my neighbours K&T and myself. She cooked up three pheasants Charles had hunted last year and made them into coq au vin.
So fast forward to dinner time and I took my first scoop of the stew, surprised to find lots of bone shards, similar to getting a whole fish with the bone in. As it turned out, the bones had shattered during the butchering process. Once I picked everything clean, I found myself with a very tasty meal. C&C’s pheasant was absolutely delicious and not at all what I expected, very mild flavoured when I’d expected an overpowering gamey taste. It was very tender as well.
Meanwhile, poor T took a bite and CRUNCH. We thought she’d caught a bone as well, but, lo and behold, it was a piece of buckshot that Caroline had missed during the cleaning process.
I’m new to eating this sort of thing so I had to process that for a second, finally saying, “You know, I’ve never eaten anything with bullets in it before.”
Unbelievably, it was five years this week that I bought Haven. I’ll be here a couple more days and, if all goes well, I’ll be heading to Mérida on Wednesday.
I am just as sad as I am excited to leave. I don’t think I could convey just how incalculably in love I am with the place where I thought I might finally put down roots and how bereft and cheated I feel that I have to leave it. I thought it was difficult to leave Quebec for good, but I didn’t choose to be québécoise, and that is what makes all the difference.
I fought hard to make it possible to stay at Haven. I couldn’t leave with a clear conscience if I didn’t. I have no doubt that if it weren’t for the Internet situation, moving to Mexico would have been a passing fancy at best. I was very content with the vision I had for my future of summers (four to five months a year) at Haven, travel in the shoulder seasons, and winters (three to four months) somewhere hot. That would satisfy the two halves of me, the one that needs to go and the one that is content with quiet domesticity.
Excited as I am at the thought of a fresh start in Mexico, I have a lot of letting go to do. I don’t even know if I can do that. I still have in my mind that maybe five ten years from now, when I don’t need to work as much, I’ll be able to go spend those summers puttering around Haven after building a house on the property. I cling to this dream even as I know that my life has likely irrevocably moved away from my little bit of prairie. I’ll likely buy property in Mexico and find it too inconvenient and expensive to return to Saskatchewan. Or I might get an offer on Haven that is too good to turn down. And I have to remember that my beloved neighbours might not be around that much longer.
So I have to leave looking forward. My country has told me for decades now that what I want is unacceptable to it. It has made it very clear that if I am to thrive here, I have to toe the line and that I must live where they say if I want healthcare, driving privileges, affordable education, and Internet access. I am tired of fighting for my right to live as and where I want to in this country. It is time to let out a deep breath, brace myself for the challenge of dealing with another country’s red tape, and stop expending so much energy trying to change things in a country that sees no reason to change.
Today, I began packing in earnest, going so far as to take down pictures, wrap them up, and put them in the truck. I have begun dismantling the place I’ve called home for the last nine years even if I didn’t live there continuously. I know that if I don’t do that, I’ll never feel “at home” wherever I land in Mexico. I can’t bring everything with me, but when I shut the door Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, I want to drive away feeling that I’m not leaving much behind that is part of my story.
I’ve been getting a lot of comments and emails from folks saying how excited they are for me, so this post is my response to those missives. To be honest, I’m having a really hard time getting motivated to pack up. I just want to sit by the fire with my friends and enjoy coffee while looking over my beloved hills. I am very excited about going to Mexico and have no regrets, but being home is as hard as I expected it would be and I’m giving myself time to grieve.
High winds in northern sky will carry you away
You know you have to leave here
You wish that you could stay
There’s four directions on this map
But you’re only going one way
Due South ……. (that’s the way I’m going)
Saddle up my travelling shoes
I’m bound to walk away these blues